Homeschooling Update: Looking Back at Kindergarten

Last month we ended H’s official Kindergarten year (we’re doing some “fun school” over the summer).


I’m not sure how to describe our year of reading instruction. While “resistant” isn’t exactly right, it may be the closest term I can come up with to describe how she generally responded to lessons.

I know she’s young, so I didn’t want to push her, and if it hadn’t been for her saying that she wanted to learn to read, I’d have dropped any lessons completely As it was, I would end up trying a lesson with her, going until she got … emotional/uncooperative, and then I’d back off for a time (sometimes a few days, sometimes a week, sometimes a month), until she requested more.

However, I discovered Teach Your Monster to Read and she LOVED playing that game on the computer, and it helped her realize she could read some things, which was nice as she wants so much to read.

She does not like following the scripted lessons from All About Reading 1 the same way G did for Kindergarten, so I’m having to be a little more inventive. I was hoping it would work just like it did for G, but no such luck. I’m expecting that she’s close to really becoming a reader, and will start back up attempting lessons with her in August.

Math & Science & More

She enjoyed math, which was Mathematical Reasoning, and then some random workbooks, and then we had just started Math Mammoth 1A, getting about halfway through the first (long) chapter before breaking for the summer.

Science was probably her favorite: Sonlight’s P 4/5 has lots of fun science books to read, like the beloved Big Book of Science and Nature, and I supplemented with extra books from my Usborne collection, and from the library. Favorites included Wild Animal Atlas, First Big Book of Animals, First Big Book of Why, and Q & A About Animals.

She usually liked handwriting, and her favorite thing of all is probably art, and she’d like it if I would include that every day. While she’s always welcome to do art on her own each day, she’d like me to do it with her every day and that doesn’t always happen.

I think it’s funny how much she looooves workbooks right now, and I’m catering to that love by getting her some extra ones. Those random math books I mentioned, plus some Kindergarten-level activity books I found on Amazon, Explode the Code primer books A, B, and C, an easy Geography workbook. She loves them all.


She also generally loved read-aloud time. Her favorite books from the year were:
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook (and More Milly-Molly-Mandy), A Doctor Like Papa, Stories from Around the World, Beginners World Atlas, Street Through Time, and What Do People Do All Day.

Extra Activities

PE was taken care of through taekwondo (she received her brown belt right before her 6th birthday; she’s by far the youngest in the advanced classes now, but she loves it), as well as soccer and softball. She’s asked to play basketball this year as well, as she was disappointed that it wasn’t offered for Kindergarteners. She amazes me with her athleticism and drive to be the best on her teams. I was not that way. 😉

Her other activity for the year was Awana, which she loved. She worked very hard to finish her book for the year, and then made it through a second time to get the review patch.

I was thinking it was a really light year, and it felt like that during the year, but looking back at the year she actually covered quite a bit. Yes, she’s still not reading fluently like they’d expect her to be doing if she was in the public school here, but I know she’ll figure it out soon enough and catch up. She’s excited about moving on to her first-grade materials, and I’m happy she’s still enthusiastic about school.

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Recent Readaloud: What’s So Special About Planet Earth

What's So Special About Planet EarthWhat’s So Special about Planet Earth? What's So Special about Planet Earth? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells

The Sonlight program we’re doing this year includes several science titles by this author, but he has written many additional ones, and my library seems to carry them all. Of course that means we’ll have to look at them – and I started with the one about the planets in our solar system.

My verdict:
A simplified look at the planets. It’s basic and there isn’t a huge amount of content on any particular planet, but for a quick picture book it’s well done. The end of the book gets a little bit preachy when it gets into protecting our planet because it’s the only one suitable for us to live on (and I agree with everything he’s saying, but the way it’s phrased at times was a bit eye-roll-inducing).

The kids’ verdict:
They are big fans of this one, and the other Wells’ book we’ve read – Why Do Elephants Need the Sun?Why Do Elephants Need the Sun? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) by Robert E. Wells I image we’ll work our way through the entire series.

Publisher’s Description:
Move to another planet? Sounds interesting! In our imaginary spaceship, let’s check out the planets in our solar system. Mercury is closest, but it has no air, and it’s either sizzling hot or bitterly cold. The atmosphere on Venus is poisonous; plus, human beings would cook there. Mars might work, but you’d always have to be in a protective shelter. And if you got to the outer planets, you couldn’t even land as they are mostly made of gas! Our home planet is looking good. Why is Earth so comfortable for plants, animals, and people? As Robert E. Wells explains, it’s because of our just-right position form the sun, marvelous atmosphere, and abundant water. Our planet is very special and perfect for us, and that’s why we must do all we can to keep Earth healthy.

Book Details

Title: What’s So Special about Planet Earth? What's So Special about Planet Earth? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells
Author: Robert E. Wells
Category: Children’s Nonfiction

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Review: God’s Little Explorers

God's Little ExplorersGod’s Little Explorers: A to Z Adventures in God’s Word and World for Preschoolers by Stacie Nelson

Not my usual sort of review, because this isn’t a book you’d just read – it’s a curriculum for preschoolers. Because yes, I do have a preschooler.

I’ve done a ton of research about homeschooling, especially preschoolers. I know schooling at that age doesn’t have to involve a lot. I also know that I am not good at many of the things that seem to come naturally to some moms and caregivers. Reading books? I’ve got that covered. Doing crafts or creative things? Not so much.

I stumbled across this curriculum guide and, after viewing all the links to the free version she has online, decided to buy the full download. If you’re great at coming up with ideas for your kids on your own, or if you love searching the internet for ideas and crafts for your own self-designed plans each week, this may be unnecessary. For anyone whose doesn’t want to spend tons of free time planning and deciding what to do, I think this would be completely worth the fifty cents a week it works out to be.

What do I like?
  • It’s all laid out for you, in an easy-to-find and easy-to-follow-structure. Not just a weekly plan, but ideas for each day.
  • She includes some ideas for younger siblings. Awesome.
  • The crafts seem doable for me, the crafting-impaired. Simple projects, simple to find items.
  • The structure and how it follows the Bible story.
  • The assessment forms – to do (if you want to) before beginning the program, at the halfway point, and after finishing it. What I liked the best about these is it was a quick snapshot to see what my son knows, and what he doesn’t know so perhaps I should remember to cover those things.
  • There are a list of suggested books to accompany each theme – while I don’t have trouble finding books to read on any topic (understatement of the year), it’s still nice having theme there, both for extra ideas, and so that if life gets crazy and I don’t have time to search myself? It’s right there.
  • That if the cost is prohibitive, or if you want to preview it to see if it’s right for your family, you can get many, if not most, of the ideas from the website for free. I wanted the convenience of the all-in-one download, and I wanted to support the author for her time and effort for developing this, so I bought the paid version. (The extra freebies only included in the paid version are nice too, although they’re not essential.)
  • She’s using proceeds from sales of the book to fund the building of an orphanage in India. How neat to think that I helped towards that, even a tiny bit.
What do I not like?
  • The PDF doesn’t have the Table of Contents linked to the content. In other words, I can’t click on a page number in the TOC and jump to that page. I’ve got some PDFs where that works, and it’s super handy. Yes, I’m being picky, but it’s an aggravation.
  • I underestimated just how much I do not like assembling crafting supplies and supervising craft projects (it stresses me out, always trying to keep two kids from destroying the house or each other), in addition to making sure I have themed books available for the right week. I like getting library books. I don’t like trying to coordinate holds dates and specific titles.
  • Many of the craft projects and other ideas link back to her website for additional details, so if you don’t have easy access to the internet the book itself is not completely self-contained. Even if you do, it’s slightly annoying to constantly have to switch between the book and the website.
  • If you don’t have convenient access to a printer, it’s a hassle. While you don’t have to print things out, it’s a lot easier if you do.

So, we “followed” this plan for a week and a half, and that short period of time taught me that as much as I love this program, and love the idea of following it, it’s just not a good fit for me and our family. I can easily see it being a great fit for others though, so I still wanted to share my thoughts about it.

Some of the problems were, in addition to my craft-aversion, that my son already knew so much of it – he knows all of his letters, and most of their sounds. He doesn’t like coloring, and he wasn’t interested in the lessons. If I’d tried it last year when he was three, I think the lessons would have been a better fit for him (except he hated coloring even more last year.) My daughter isn’t quite old enough to be interested, although she does love coloring, painting, gluing, and anything else of that nature I’ve tried with her. I may try this again with her next year, as it seems to be a better fit for her interests.

While this program didn’t work for us, I don’t regret trying it. It gave me some more insight into teaching and learning styles, and what is important to me from a curriculum, and what is essential. I do think it’s well-done, and that for other families, it could be very successful. That and since you can get access to most of it for free and see if it’s a good fit for your family it makes it very easy to still recommend God’s Little Explorers.

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